Siphon Draw Hiking Trail to Flatiron Mesa
★★★★★ Difficult / Phoenix Area:
Breathtaking views, from the bow of this immense “granite ship,” reward hikers who finish the butt-kicking scramble up Siphon Draw Hiking Trail. Nestled into one of the Superstition Mountain’s dramatic canyons, the first half of this hike is a deceptively easy preamble to the steep craggy climb that follows. Here a 2,000 foot elevation gain is compressed into a 1.5 mile mixed hike and rock scramble.
TRAILHEAD: 6109 N. Apache Trail, Apache Junction • DIFFICULTY: difficult • DISTANCE: 3 MILES (6 miles RT) • APPROX. TIME: 5-6 HOURS • ELEVATION GAIN: 3,000 FEET (214 STORIES) • APPROX. CALORIES BURNED: 1,020-1,140 • BEST TIME OF YEAR: SEPT. – MAY • PETS: YES (but steepness could be difficult) • KID FRIENDLY: No • FACILITIES: YES • FEES: $8 weekday, or $10 weekend, Day use (or annual State Parks Pass)
Looking up at Flatiron Mesa, looming like a battleship above Siphon Draw Trailhead, it’s immediately clear that this hike is a “butt-burner.” The Superstition Mountain’s vertical cliffs jut straight upwards here. Their walls hiding the view of the trail’s steep upper sections.
At first, the Siphon Draw Hiking Trail gently meanders up the foothills towards the mountain’s sheer granite walls. As the path rounds the base of the first cliff, the ongoing route becomes visible. The trail is pretty much a straight jaunt up a groove in the canyon – between rugged rock formations and soaring precipices. There are no steepness-minimizing switchbacks here!
About 1.5 miles, and 1,000 feet up, into the hike, the trail reaches Siphon Draw. This wide stone basin, formed by centuries of runoff, looks much like a petrified wave beneath the battleship shaped mesa. The official Siphon Draw Hiking Trail ends here. Looking backwards from the Draw, there are formidable views over Apache Junction. To reach the top of Flat Iron Mesa, continue upwards on the well-used, unofficial trail located at the top of the basin.
The hike rapidly steepens after Siphon Draw. It ascends tiers of layered granite, piles of large boulders and high rock scrambles. Markers are scant. And it’s easy to get waylaid by the multiple false trails that lead off to the right – and then ultimately dead end. As a general rule, stay on the leftmost trail to reach the top of the mesa.
At the top of the canyon, the trail splits in two. Turn right to head onto Flat Iron Mesa (a left turn leads to battleship rock). It’s easy sailing from here. Phew! The mesa is shaped like the bow of an ginormous ship. Sheer cliffs drop off on all sides, forming a huge granite “hull.” And incredible birds-eye views span hundreds of miles in all directions. You can see Apache Junction, Queen Creek, Phoenix and beyond.
This is the perfect place for a well-earned break. Enjoy the fantastic views and surprising mix of chipmunks, turquoise and yellow collared lizards, ravens and other creatures that call this sky high mesa home.
In the early 1900’s, the mesa was called both Ship Rock and Flatiron – since it reminded settlers of either the bow of a ship, or one of those pre-electric, flat metal irons used to press clothing at that time. The fashionistas clearly won on the name.
Directions From the intersection of I-17 and AZ-10 (in Phoenix), drive east on AZ-10 for 11.9 miles to exit 154/US-60 E. Merge onto US-60 E (towards Mesa/Globe) and continue 24.6 miles to exit 196/AZ-88, Idaho Road. Turn left/east on AZ-88/Idaho Road (which becomes Apache Trail Road) and drive 7.2 miles to the entry for Lost Dutchman State Park, on the right.
- Apache Junction, Butte, Canyon, Central Arizona, Dayhike, Difficult, Lost Dutchman State Park, Phoenix Area, Plateau, Superstition Mountains, Views
- May 16, 2015